Five tips to engage multilingual children in conversation
Having conversations with children who are learning English in addition to their home languages—referred to in this article as multilingual children—is an essential skill for early childhood educators. Such engagement has implications for multilingual children’s developing identities as valued and knowledgeable members of their communities as well as for their language learning. Discussions between educators and children have been shown to facilitate language learning by providing children with models for use of language and responsive communication and by offering teachers frequent opportunities to check for comprehension (e.g., Mashburn et al. 2008; Ruston & Schwanenflugel 2010; Chapman de Sousa 2017). Conversations also contextualize topics, making topics relevant to multilingual children and potentially motivating them to practice using their new language just beyond their independent level—a practice that facilitates language development (Swain 2005).
Chapman De Sousa, E. B. (2019). Five tips to engage multilingual children in conversation. Young Children, 74(2), 24–31.